Exploring the Importance of Shift Left Testing
Shift left testing is an approach to software testing that emphasizes moving software testing to earlier stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It helps to identify problems earlier in the SDLC. Combined with effective test case management through test management tools
, it saves organizations time and money and prevents bottlenecks in software delivery.
In this blog, we will explore its significance and understand the various benefits associated with it, and why it is important to adopt it in our software testing process.
What is Shift Left Testing?
This type of testing means to shift software testing to “the left” i.e., to the earlier stages of software testing.
In the past, organizations followed traditional software development methodologies, such as the waterfall approach. In the waterfall approach, software development and testing were done sequentially in a linear manner. So, stages of development included gathering requirements, designing, developing, and finally, testing and deployment. This meant that the testing phase was towards the right i.e., at the end, and there was no flexibility for on-the-go updates and changes.
Eventually, more flexible approaches such as Agile replaced the traditional methodologies. In agile, software is developed in small phases or “sprints”. Testing is shifted left i.e., at the start of the SDLC, and then continually integrated through the development process. This means that bugs are identified earlier, and customer feedback can be collected and incorporated to improve and refine software as it is developed.
Benefits of Shift-Left Testing
Late-stage software testing, such as is done in the waterfall approach, can cause many problems. Let’s see an example. Imagine you get a small cut on your finger. If treated immediately with an antiseptic and bandage at home, a minor wound can heal quickly and easily. However, if you ignore it, it might get infected and spread to surrounding tissue. Eventually, healing will become more time-consuming and painful. You will have to take multiple trips to the doctor and buy expensive medicine to treat your wound, increasing your costs. This is similar to the drawbacks of late-stage testing. If issues arise earlier in software development but are not resolved till much later, they can accumulate and cascade over time, impacting the whole code. Fixing them later takes more time, effort, and money.
Additionally, if too many problems are left undetected, there will be very little time left to fix them. As teams rush to meet project deadlines, they may not adequately fix the bugs, which means more defects will make their way to customers and cause dissatisfaction. If the code is already complete, there will not be a lot of room to make drastic changes for complete improvement. As a consequence, teams will need to push deadlines, causing client dissatisfaction and reputational and monetary damage. Proper test case management will not be implemented, leading to haphazard documentation, difficulty tracking progress, and a lot of miscoordination.
The shift left testing approach can help avoid all this. Software testers can identify potential problems earlier, and create higher-quality code. They can collect continuous feedback and implement it throughout the SDLC, leading to faster adjustments and improvements. Test case management can be done properly and effectively through test case management tools, leading to better organization. Overall, this type of testing approach can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of testing.
Challenges to Shift Left Testing Approach
Although it is a great testing strategy, organizations moving to incorporate it for the first time might struggle with some challenges. For example, organizations or team members that are used to more traditional methodologies might resist the shift to newer and unfamiliar methods. This kind of testing is collaborative and dependent on the cooperation between developers and testers. If these teams are more used to working separately in silos, creating synergy and coordination might be difficult.
Shift left testing also requires testers to enhance their understanding of the development side. They need to be clear on the requirements, expectations, and functionality of the software to test relevant items. In this case, continuous training and upskilling initiatives are essential to encourage continual growth. Organizations should train software testers on effective test case management and the use of test management tools to manage testing activities with ease.
Before implementing shift left testing, prior test planning and test case management is necessary to ensure the availability of the right test environment and test data. For example, if a software application needs to be tested on different devices, then arrangements to obtain relevant devices or stimulate required test environments need to be done beforehand. However, this may not always be possible due to time or budget constraints. Similarly, testing different software applications require different types of testing data. For example, to test a healthcare application you will need patient data such as medical history and treatment plans. Obtaining or creating this data while maintaining data privacy can be challenging.
Shift Left Testing Best Practices
Now that we understand the basics of this testing approach, let’s examine some best practices.
- • Agile and Iterative Software Development and Testing: The agile approach emphasizes iterative development in small increments to incorporate frequent feedback. This approach emphasizes shift left testing to develop and deliver features incrementally.
- • Early Involvement of Testers: Testers should be involved in the SDLC from the start. They should be part of client and project meetings to understand design and product requirements.
- • Fostering Teamwork and a Collaborative Mindset: A culture of sharing knowledge, mentorship, and communication and a one-team mindset should be created so developers and testers can work together.
- • Incorporating CI/CD and Continuous Testing: Continuous integration of changes along with continuous testing before every release can help in early bug detection and resolution.
- • Automation: Test automation should be incorporated to reduce human error and enhance performance for early and efficient testing. Regression tests should be set up to perform automatically after changes.
- • Implement Test Driven Development (TDD): TDD is an approach to testing that involves writing tests before the code. After writing the test, minimal code is written for the test to pass, and then refactored to improve it. TDD incorporates this testing, ensuring better code quality and providing fast feedback for developers to improve their code.
- • Test Management Tools: Effective test case management is essential to track and facilitate continuous and shift left testing. Test management tools like Testworthy can help testing teams track their testing efforts and create a collaborative platform to facilitate testing activities.
Shift left testing is an important aspect of agile software development that has transformed traditional testing approaches and techniques. The shift left testing approach can be used for early detection and resolution of bugs to create high-quality software that can be delivered faster and more efficiently. Shift left testing is an essential aspect of modern software testing that should be prioritized and adopted by all software testing teams.
is one of the best test management tools to help teams organize and manage their software testing activities. Using Testworthy can help teams enhance their test case management and implement shift left testing practices easily. Sign up for a free trial today.
Shift left testing is an approach to software testing that emphasizes moving software testing activities to the start of the development cycle to encourage early detection and resolution of bugs and issues.
It can help organizations elevate their software development and testing and make it more efficient. Implementing it can aid in early detection and solution of issues, leading to faster time-to-market and better-quality software. It also encourages continuous improvement in collaboration and learning and aids in adoption of agile software development practices.
This kind of testing might be difficult to adopt for teams who are used to waterfall methods of project delivery. Additionally, shift left testing is dependent on external factors such as availability of learning and development opportunities, implementation of test automation and availability of test data and environment.